I have been traveling the world full-time for almost half of my life, but there is still one thing that I don’t like about traveling – packing.
I always have the overwhelming feeling that I forgot to pack something very important. Is anyone with me on that?
Truth be told, apart from travel documents, phone, and money everything else can be replaced, so I really have no reason to stress unless… I am packing for a multiday hike.
This is way different because If I forget something, for example, a rain jacket, not only it can make my life miserable, but it might also mean I will have to end the trip early.
Luckily having hiked many multiday trails in the Italian Dolomites I have developed my own foolproof packing list for hut-to-hut hikes. Whether your trip is 3 or 30 days long this list will ensure that you do not overpack or forget anything important.
Make sure to download the list at the end!
Clothes are usually the number 1 thing we all tend to overpack on hut-to-hut treks. Hiking clothes are lightweight, but the weight adds up quickly. Remember if you have to carry everything on your back, every gram counts!
You only need two sets of clothes on your packing list: one to wear during the day on the hike and the second one to wear around the hut. Nothing more!
The clothes should be multifunctional and made of lightweight and quick-drying materials. I am also a big believer in investing in good quality gear which lasts for years.
Every piece of clothing I recommend below is one that I use myself. I hike a few hundred kilometers of trails every summer and autumn and put my gear under tremendous strain yet it never fails me.
Patagonia Down Jacket or Norrona Down Vest to keep you warm during evenings, especially if you plan on leaving the hut and photographing sunsets or sunrises
Black Diamond Waterproof Jacket – this is a no-brainer. Don’t count on sunshine all the way through. Afternoon storms are very common in the Dolomites
Hiking T-Shirts x 2 – You can alternate them & wash them daily at the hut. Make sure they are made from quick-drying synthetic material or if you don’t mind wearing wool you can get Merino wool t-shirts.
3 x merino underwear & 2 x Sports Bra– No point in taking any more. You can just alternate them and wash them in the hut
2-3 x socks – Make sure you pack Merino wool socks. Good socks will prevent blisters and any funky smells.
Pants with zip-off legs (to wear during the day) – I have a pair of Fjallraven Abisko Lite Zip-Off trousers and Revolution Race trousers. The latter has the best quality-to-price ratio
Leggings or shorts – My favorite brand of leggings is Lululemon, but you can just pack the most comfortable pair of leggings you have at home to wear in the evenings around the hut.
Salewa Dry Hoodie – for colder days. Make sure it is synthetic like the one above
Patagonia Trucker Hat – an absolute must-have. I have a Patagonia sun hat. Love the colors and the fit.
Julbo Trekking Sunglasses with UV filter (strength at least 3) – Polarised sunglasses are nice, but they don’t work for me, because I don’t like taking my sunglasses off when using my camera.
Buff Scarf – this is probably the most versatile piece of clothing. It can be used as a hat, headband, scarf, and a dozen other ways.
Icebreaker Trekking Gloves – particularly if you hike in September as the mornings and evenings do get cold.
Lowa Mauria GTX boots – These boots carried me across the Dolomites for hundreds of kilometers until I wore the sole off. My own fault, because you can actually resolve them! They are very well made, comfy, and look nice! Just buy a better insole (as with any hiking boots).
Slide Sandals – to wear around the hut and for use in the showers. Opt for slide-in sandals instead of flip-flops, because you want to be able to wear socks! It’s the latest fashion trend after all 😉
Sea-To-Summit compression sack
Store all your clothes in a stuff sack to save space and have easy access to them, when stored in your backpack. I recommend either the 8-liter or the 13-liter version.
Remember to carry small travel-sized bottles. No need to take a whole tube of toothpaste or face cream. The idea is to fit all your toiletries, which are on your packing list, into a small bag.
- Sea To Summit Toiletry Bag – this tiny cosmetic pouch will fit everything that you need for your journey! Leave your make-up at home!
- Sunscreen – 50 ml (at least 30 SPF, ideally SPF 50). The sun in the mountains is fierce. Don’t risk sunburn and apply that sunscreen!
- Face cream – because you aren’t getting any younger!
- Sea to Summit Trek & Travel Pocket Soaps– I know some of us like to have 20 different bottles for each body part but in this case, these environmentally friendly and lightweight dry pocket soaps will do the trick!
- Sea to Summit Biodegradable Wilderness Wash– take that stink out of your clothes and wash them at the hut in the afternoon
- Toothbrush – I hope I don’t need to explain why you need a toothbrush
- Toothpaste 10 ml – same as above
- Hairbrush – optional. I sometimes pack it and other times I don’t. I don’t brush my hair very often, so a few days without it is totally fine for me. I just comb my hair with my fingers.
- Hair bobbles – If you like to keep your hair out of the way
- Deodorant (50ml) – to keep the stink at bay
- Small shaver (optional) – If I go for a week or longer, I do pack it with me, but it’s totally optional
- Cream for cuts and blisters – Have you heard of the PAWPAW cream? It was recommended to me on my travels in Australia. It has many purposes, including lip moisturizer! You will never buy any other product again after trying this one, I promise! It’s a lifesaver.
- Ortovox mini first aid kit – if there is more than one person in your party then just carry one between you.
- Painkillers – if your trekking partner gives you headaches because of all their whining
- Immodium – if the food at the hut causes some digestion problems
- Any other medicine you might be taking on a regular basis
- Paper tissues and/or wet wipes – are a staple for any backpacker on a hut-to-hut trek. Just don’t throw them away into the bush. I hate the sight of toilet paper flying around in the most pristine areas!
- Rehydration tablets – replace those electrolytes! Adding them to your water will quench your thirst a lot better
- Nuts – avoid salted nuts, I always go with walnuts, almonds, or cashews
- Date and nut bars or protein bars – go as natural as possible, avoid muesli bars full of added sugar
- Protein powder (30 gram serving for each day of the trek) – just mix it with water and have it as a snack at the hut, so you can look like Arnold Schwarzenegger at the end of the trek
Luckily there isn’t much hiking gear you need to put on your packing list for a hut-to-hut trek in the Dolomites.
There is no necessity of carrying a tent, sleeping bag, or cooking set because not only do the huts offer a comfortable night’s sleep in a real bed, but also have restaurants on-site! That’s the reason lightweight hiking is possible in the Dolomites!
There are however still a few things you need to pack all enlisted below.
A silk sleeping bag liner – is required at the huts to prevent direct contact with the sheets. They are not washed every day!
Microfibre trekking towel – you do need to wash yourself every now and again after all
Maps – To know where you are going!
Hydrapak Water bladder – to drink hands-free whilst you admire all the landscapes around you. One of the greatest inventions in the hiking
Black Diamond Trekking Poles – to help you drag your butt up and down that mountain passes. I have already g
Black Diamond Cosmo Head Torch – Oftentimes the huts only run the lights until 10 or 11 PM, after that you will have to use the head torch. It’s also polite to use it at night when everyone else is sleeping in the room and you need to use the bathroom.
- ID or Passport – it’s smart to carry one with you in case something happens
- Credit/debit card – so you can go crazy at the hut bar!
- Cash – many huts still don’t accept cards, so cash is necessary. Spread it around in different pockets.
- Alpine club membership – if you have one, bring it! It can save you quite a bit of money. I talk about it in my post about the ins and outs of staying in mountain huts in the Italian Dolomites.
Via Ferrata Equipment (trail depending)
Some of the multiday hikes in the Italian Dolomites have via ferrata incorporated into them. Examples are Alta Via 2, Alta Via 4, Rosengarten traverse, and the Dolomiti Brenta circuit. To undertake them you will need to put a dedicated via ferrata equipment onto your packing list.
Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet
An absolute necessity. There are a lot of loose scree paths in the Dolomites, not to mention the scrambling parts!
Black Diamond Momentum Harness
This is the second Black Diamond harness I owned after my first one reached its expiration date and this one is even comfier than the last one!
Protect your hands from cuts caused by single wires sticking out of the cables and opt for full-fingered cover gloves.
Camp Kinetic Rewind Pro Via Ferrata Lanyard
Arguably the best set on the market made by an Italian company. When it comes down to Via Ferrata gear the Italians know their stuff.
How much electronic equipment you decide to carry is entirely up to you. As a photographer and a blogger, I carry quite a bit of camera equipment with me, but if you are trekking only, then I recommend that you take only the bare essentials. Here is what I take:
- Camera + lenses + SD Cards + spare battery – my current set-up is the Nikon Z6II with the 24-70mm/f4 kit lens and the Nikkor 35mm/f1.8 prime lens. A while back I made a decision to keep my lens arsenal down to a minimum as I don’t enjoy hiking with a heavy backpack.
- Peak Design camera clip – a must-have if you want to carry your camera safely and comfortably. The clip attaches to the backpack strap and the mounting plate to the camera. It’s a very convenient way to be able to access your camera really quickly without having to store it away each time after taking a shot. You can see me wearing my camera attached to my backpack strap in the photo above.
- Phone – if you want to keep in touch with your family and friends. A lot of the huts in the Dolomites do have phone reception. Don’t forget to keep it in flight mode when not using it to keep the batteries running for as long as possible.
- Small Tripod (optional) – I have two Sirui tripods, but I take the smaller one – Sirui Mini Tripod AM-223 on my backpacking trips. It weighs only 700 grams (1.6 pounds) and the tripod’s ball head also works with the Peak Design mounting plate!
- InReach Mini GPS device (optional) – this is a great device for anyone who hikes solo. A great investment into your own safety. Remember to carry it attached by a carabiner to the outside of your backpack to ensure quick and easy access
- Camera and phone charging cables and a European plug – Hopefully all your devices charge via USB or USB-C. That way you can take only one European adapter plug with you and attach different charging cables for different devices.
Miscellaneous & Optional
- Ear plugs – To help with your sanity if your bunk buddy is an incessant snorer.
- Play cards – for nighttime entertainment. Sometimes cards and other games are available at the huts
- Ebook reader – for whoever loves to read. You can also have your trekking guide on it! I have the Kindle Paperwhite and love the built-in light, which allows me to read books in bed without disturbing my bunk buddies in the hut’s dorms.
What backpack will you need?
When you go through this list you might think you will need at least a 65-liter rucksack to fit everything in, but nothing further from the truth!
I had no trouble packing all my camera equipment and the rest of the items on this list into a 38-liter backpack with room to spare! Using a bigger backpack gives the temptation to pack a lot more ‘just in case items.
Remember the lighter you go the happier you will be! If I didn’t have my camera equipment, I would have gone with a 25-30 liter backpack.
My go-to brand for backpacks is Osprey. I particularly love their harness system.
If adjusted correctly to your body and in the right size, the backpack hugs the back really nicely, stays in one place and the whole weight sits on your hips, exactly where it should!
Osprey KYTE 36L (women)
Osprey KESTREL 38L (men)
Do you have any questions or suggestions about my list? Drop them in the comments below. I answer all comments personally! Make sure to download the checklist and use it for packing for your next hut-to-hut adventure in the Alps!
If you are looking for information about traveling in the Italian Dolomites check out my independent guide! It has over 60 detailed articles on hiking, photography, hut-to-hut trips, and via ferratas!
Thanks for this list! I have done many multi-day hikes, but have never stayed in huts, so this is very helpful. I have reservations to hike the alta via 1 this Sept., and I believe the huts are not requiring to bring our own sleeping bag anymore, just the liner sheet… at least I hope so!
Hey Sarah! congrats on securing reservations. BYO sleeping bag was the case during COVID, but nowadays things are back to normal. Have fun on the trail!
Hiked AV-2 last year. Wish to hike AV-4 this year. What are the difficulty levels of the ferrata sections
on AV-4 from Rifugio Tre Scarperi to Rifugio Vandelli?
i.e., the Hulsler& Schall scale.
Great site and thank you for your help.
Hi Ernest. Thanks for visiting. I can’t tell you the H&S difficulty scale, but what I can tell you is that the via ferratas along AV4 are a lot more challenging than the ones on AV2, particularly the VF Vandelli and VF to Forcella Ghiacciao after the San Marco refuge. Both would still be considered intermediate scale. Via ferratas on AV2 are beginner routes. Sorry I can’t help further, but if you have any more questions do let me know.
Hi Marta, thanks for the information. I am looking to do AV1 this June but was considering only doing 4-5 days of hiking and not the full trail. Where do you think is the best/ easiest place to finish up after 4 or 5 days with relation to roads and public transport, assuming I start at Lago di Braies?
Also, the hike is only part of my trip, is there anywhere that you can store bags/ suitcases while you do your hike?
Hi Tom. Thanks for stopping by. At the end of the post, I have a section on the early escape routes. To be honest the easiest would be to finish on day 4 on Passo Giau and then get down to Cortina. On an extra day, you could do a day hike to Lake Sorapiss or one of the via ferratas around Cortina (Michielli Strobel for example, or Giovanni Lipella). It would also be easier because you could stay the night before the hike in Cortina and leave your luggage at a hotel in Cortina then bus to Lago di Braies in the morning to start your AV1 hike.
Or After night 3 at rifugio Lagazuoi you could do via ferrata Cesco Tomaselli on Day 4 and stay night 4 in rifugio Dibona then on day 5 do via ferrata Giovanni Lipella and hike down to Cortina after that. Let me know if that helps!
Do you have any intel on when the mountain huts might open this year? I am planning on doing AV2 starting on June 15th, but am worried that some of the huts won’t be open and am not sure how to plan around this – sources online give different opening dates with a consensus around mid to late June. Thanks!
Hi Blake! Thanks for stopping by. They open differently year to year as the snow conditions are monitored, that’s why most sources will tell you mid-June or the third week of June. Most huts have websites and post info 1-2 months prior to opening when the exact opening date will be. For example, if you go to rifugio Genova (Schlueterhuette(com) You will see in the first line of their text that they were open from June 17 until October 9, 2022. Since they usually open for the weekend and June 17th was a Friday, my presumption is that in 2023 they will open on June 16th (it’s a Friday too). Most huts are coordinated and open more or less at the same time because they know they lie along a certain route. This excludes some high-altitude huts where the snow remains longer. For example rifugio Capanna Fassa at the top of Piz Boe, they are usually open from the start of July until the end of September, but the summit of Piz Boe is only an extension to AV2. I hope this clarifies things for you.
Hi Marta, your website is such a great resource! I was wondering if it’s possible to rent a nice backpack from a nearby town (perhaps the same kind of place that rents via ferrata gear)? I currently own a large pack for backpacking and a tiny daypack, but nothing suitably in-between, and would rather not buy something I’m not sure I’ll use often.
Hi Shil. Thanks for your feedback. I am afraid I won’t be able to help you with this one. I have never heard of backpack rentals. I would recommend that you head over to eBay or similar and search for something second-hand! particularly because you would probably spend more on the rental and you would have to travel back to the rental place after completing a traverse. Sorry I couldn’t help any further.
Hi Marta! I’m hiking the AV1 in late July/early August and wondered what your experience has been with buying food at each rifugio to take along the trail with you. I’m planning on bringing some nuts or clifbars with me as a backup food and also paying for half-board at each location, but just curious about the snack situation.
Hi! One more question… What are your thoughts on traveling with only a sleeping bag liner, rather than both that and a sleeping bag? Just trying to lighten my pack as much as possible.
Hi Kelly. I always only had a sleeping bag liner with me as the huts provide blankets/duvets. The only thing was that during the pandemic many huts required people to have sleeping bags, but that’s not the case anymore.
Hi Kelly. Thanks for stopping by. I usually made it to the next refuge by lunchtime and just purchased lunch from their restaurant. I also had coffee and cake in the afternoon before dinner time., I had half board at every single refuge I stayed in when backpacking on AV1. As for snacks I usually packed enough at the very start of the trek to last me till the end, but I used them sparingly. For example 1 x 500 grams bag of nuts and I would have a handful each day + one protein bar for each day. I highly recommend protein bars over cliff bars. Cliff bars are just pure sugar, proteins will keep you full for longer and are smaller/handier to pack. I did lose a couple of kilos when hiking AV1. My dad lost 3kg, but I think that’s very normal and I gained it back very quickly.
Hi Marta! Thanks for creating such an incredible website 😍 We’re hiking Via Ferrata 1 in mid August this year, and were wondering what you recommend about shoes.. As it’s August we were wondering if we can get away with just trail running shoes (we both also have waterproof pairs as well as normal ones), or whether we definitely need to bring walking boots, or if its worth bringing both in case one pair of shoes rubs, etc. I was edging towards bringing my light, waterproof hiking boots then also a pair of light trail running shoes for dry/hot days, but wasn’t sure if that’s overkill and I should just bring one pair of shoes? It’s so hard to decide what to go for! Personally I find trainers much more comfy than boots in hot weather. Advice very welcome 🙂 Thanks
Hi Heidi. Thanks for visiting. I presume by saying you are thinking of Via Ferrata 1 you actually mean hiking Alta Via 1? Bear in mind that August is the busiest month in the Dolomites so securing hut reservations at this time might be difficult.
As for the type of shoes you want to take I think it’s down to personal preference. I hiked all Alta Vias in my heavy hiking boots and at times I was very happy to have them (we still had lots of snow, the terrains is very rocky) at others (when it was hot) i hated them and couldn’t wait to get out of them. I still prefer to have a lighter backpack though than carry two pairs of shoes 🙂
If you prefer to hike in trail running shoes or approach shoes then go for it. The thing is neither big hiking boots nor trail running shoes will be perfect for all situations. If you don’t mind extra weight in your backpack take two pairs by all means! I know that I will do anything to keep the weight of my backpack down to a minimum, but that’s me 🙂
Hi Marta, did you bring a water filter? Are there streams along the way or do you mostly rely on filling up at the refugios? Thanks!
Hi Susan. No, I don’t carry a water filter I just drink the tap water in the huts. I never got sick, but I can’t 100% vouch for the quality of water either as it does come from snowmelt. I usually carry electrolytes with me. Huts do sell bottled water too. I hope that helps!
I have two questions, first, how do you go about washing your clothes in the huts? Secondly, are you able to buy the Tabacco Maps in stores while in Italy, or do you have to buy them online?
Hi Maxwell. Thanks for visiting my site. I just hand wash the shirts and underwear that I wore on the day in the bathroom sink of the hut. It’s usually cold water only but it does the job to wash off the sweat. You can carry a small bottle of sea to summit clothing wash with you. As for maps, you can buy them in Italy. All tourist towns in the Dolomites have little tourist shops where they sell them. Sports stores sell them too. Even rifugios often sell them! It’s easy to purchase them there. Let me know If I can help any further!
Hi Marta, thanks for the post. Is it necessary to bring a portable solar charger? I’ve heard that some huts do not provide charging points? I’ll be trekking the Via Alta 2.
Hi Alex. Thanks for visiting. No, it isn’t. I didn’t carry a power bank or solar charger with me and had zero trouble recharging my phone, GPS and camera batteries along the way. Just make sure to ask at the huts within what time you can charge your stuff. Some huts only have power available within certain hours and it’s usually switched off at night. I’d say recharge your things as soon as you get to the hut. I hope that helps!
Hi Marta!!! Do you have any experience in Mid September? We aren’t hiking from rifugio to rifugio but plan to take cable cars up, hike around rifugios and spend the night at the rifugio. My partner is a landscape photographer so we want to be there for sunset/sunrise.
My question is that I tend to run cold and wonder what level of down jacket I need for evenings/early mornings in mid-late sept at the rifugios?
Any advise here? Thank you!!!
Hi Emily. Thanks for visiting. During my first season in the Dolomites, I stayed all the way until the beginning of November. I spent two September in the Dolomites and I can tell you that the weather and temperatures vary greatly between towns and valleys and peaks. I think the most important thing is layers. You don’t need a super warm down jacket, but you definitely will need a shell to put over your down jacket (that is windproof and waterproof) The shell makes a huge difference because it keeps the warmth. Also, remember that down doesn’t generate heat but retains it so it’s important that you get into your jackets when you are warm and don’t let yourself cool down but keep moving.
A beanie and gloves are a must, I even wear them during the summer season in the mornings and evenings. To put things in perspective for you during last October when I was in the Dolomites I wore t-shirts when hiking up the mountains then once at the summit I would be putting on 3 more layers. I also always bring a t-shirt to change so I am wearing dry clothes at summits, this makes a huge difference. If you run cold make sure to have a jacket with 800cuin. Patagonia has great jackets made out of traceable down followed by highest standards in the industry. I currently own one myself. I hope that helps!
Hi Marta! Do you know any places in Fiera di Primiero to rent via ferrata equipment?
Hi Myrtle. There are a few ski rental places that often rent via ferrata and bikes in the summer. Look for noleggio on google maps and contact the places directly. There are a few in FdP or San Martino Di Castrozza.